HelloFresh vs. Home Chef: I Tried Both Meal Kits and This Is the One I’ll Order Again

published Apr 18, 2024
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HelloFresh vs Home Chef recipe photos side by side
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

On my quest to make as little food decisions as I can (and I make a lot of them already), I’ve been eating my way through all the meal kit subscription boxes I can get my hands on. One thing that’s been immediately clear? While delicious, not all meal subscription kits are made equal

Some, I’ve found, can produce dishes that are gosh darn near aspirational (why yes, I did make this risotto myself), requiring limited cooking ability to still turn out pretty fancy-schmancy meals; others seem like they’ll razzle-dazzle you, but fall a bit short.

Despite the less than successful attempts, I’m still convinced there’s a meal kit for everyone, no matter your taste, time commitments, or budget. So in the name of science and deliciously easy dinners, I decided to test out two of the most popular names in the game — HelloFresh and Home Chef — to see which might become my No. 1 Food Decider (a high honor).

To keep this matchup as fair as possible, I decided to evaluate the price, recipe variety, quality, and ease of both boxes, awarding bonus points for recipes that didn’t require a whole sinkful of dishes. I’m the only dishwasher here! Let’s see which meal kit has me hitting the subscribe button for the foreseeable future. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Price

Home Chef Meal Kit: $70.93 ($9.99 per serving, plus $10.99 for shipping)

HelloFresh Meal Kit: $70.93 ($9.99 per serving, plus $10.99 for shipping)

Yup, your eyes are seeing this correctly. Home Chef and HelloFresh have identical pricing for their three-meal plans (two servings each). Home Chef does allow you to scale down to two meals (two servings each) for $58.95, with each serving starting at $11.99, as does HelloFresh with each serving being $11.49 ($56.95 total). 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Recipe Variety

When sampling the meal kits, I aimed to test out a variety of proteins (plant-based and animal-based) to get a feel for quality, portion size, and timing. For funsies, I also added Tofu Pad Thai (one of my favorite dishes) to my Home Chef order to see if it could possibly save me from a takeout order that week:


Home Chef


HelloFresh 

For anyone with a dietary restriction (referring to myself here too): Home Chef and HelloFresh do not have entirely gluten-free meals (they are often made on shared machinery), so even if you spot a seemingly gluten-free meal, there’s always a chance of contamination. That being said, Home Chef does have “Gluten Smart” options that are more ideal for those of us with non-celiac gluten sensitivities.

As for the plant-based folks out there, both Home Chef and HelloFresh have several vegetarian options per week, with HelloFresh offering a few vegan options in addition to its pretty plentiful vegetarian options. Vegan options aren’t technically labeled as such on Home Chef (you’ll have to double-check the ingredients on the “Vegetarian”-labeled meal), but I’ve often spotted at least one vegan recipe per week.

Add-Ons

Still hungry? Both HelloFresh and Home Chef have add-on options in addition to these base offerings, including upgraded meal kits, as well breakfast, microwavable meals, smoothies, lunch, appetizers, and side proteins. HelloFresh also has a few more add-ons like GoodChop meat and seafood boxes, dog food from Pet’s Table, and charcuterie boards. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Meal Quality & Ease

Both HelloFresh and Home Chef are easy enough to follow, have a diverse range of recipes, and pass my Tiny Bowl Test (aka minimizes the amount of bowls needed) per recipe. There is one major distinction between the boxes, though: HelloFresh recipes require you to mix together marinades, spice mixes, and sauces (which I like, especially if I want to re-create it later), whereas Home Chef was more of the open-the-packet-and-go variety. 

This is great for someone who is less interested in learning the inner workings of a recipe or picking up a new technique (you get more seasoning packets, concentrates, and premade sauces), but I really feel like it’s more of a deal when I can reuse a recipe. As I got to cooking, I found that this premade quality affected how I ranked the meals, with HelloFresh tasting, well, HelloFresher than Home Chef. 

The HelloFresh meals layered flavors and textures — like any good recipe does — by adding onion and stock to the rice in the tagine and crispy frizzled onions and a special sauce for the meatloaves. They also taught me a few techniques I’ll keep in my kitchen arsenal, like crisping up shallots (I now want to put them on everything). Plus, each recipe is very repeatable thanks to a full list of ingredients, rather than premixed packets. I’d gladly make them again in the not-so-distant future.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Another deciding factor was the quality of the ingredients and recipe instructions provided — or should I say omitted. It pains me to say that one of my Home Chef meals was missing ingredients (Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Turkey Lettuce Wraps left out a bell pepper), while another came with the right instructions but the wrong ingredients (I requested the Steak & Blue Cheese Al Forno and received Steak Sirloin Steak and Sherry Sauce ingredients). Despite needing to source my own ingredients, I did enjoy the lettuce wraps and steak; the Tofu Pad Thai was less successful and a little too bland than I was accustomed to. The butternut squash risotto, though, was a hit. It was cozy, sage-y, easy and cheesy; I just wish I could more easily re-create the recipe in the future (it relies on a premade broth concentrate). 

Having tested out more than a few different meal services, not every box is perfect. HelloFresh, to me, requires a lot more dishwashing than Home Chef, and the timing of part of the recipes could line up a bit more seamlessly. Home Chef’s recipes, on the other hand, rely on more premade ingredients, so the components of each dish are ready at the same time.

My Final Thoughts

If I were to matchmake these meal kits, HelloFresh is more for the families, anyone already with their culinary feet wet, or wanting some tried-and-true classics with a twist. As for Home Chef, I think it’d pair perfectly with an absolute beginner chef, someone strapped for time, or wanting to prioritize making more meals at home but not sure where to start.

With all that being said, one box was the clear winner here: HelloFresh. Of course, this is just one hand-wash-only, recipe nerd’s opinion! They’re both options I’d try again, but will likely fulfill a different niche based on your household size, time, and cooking ability. 

It’s all about the more you know (🌠), so now you can make even less decisions as to what’s for dinner (the dream).

Have you tried these meal kits? Tell us about it in the comments below.